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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

Arcanine BREAK - XY180 Promo
Date Reviewed: Feb. 3, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary
Standard: 2.63       Expanded: 2.63       Limited: Promo

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.
Back to the main COTD Page


Oh now HERE we go, a BREAK Evolution to rival the likes of Greninja BREAK!! 

...okay, maybe not that crazy, but Arcanine BREAK does bring to his branch something to make them far more usable than just standing on the sidelines. For starters, his attack is not only usable - it's useful! Turbo Flame only does 2-for-80, but it allows you to attach 2 Basic Energy cards onto a Benched Pokemon you control. That can be useful to fuel up a Volcanion's attacks or another Arcanine BREAK's Turbo Flame to be used! Combined with something like Volcanion-EX's own Ability, and the two can work really well together. 

That being said, what Arcanine BREAK can do may be useful, but only his previous evolutions can make him truly worth the effort. In Standard, this includes the very basic Arcanine (BKP) and Arcanine (EVO). The Evolutions print at least has Burning Road, which can draw out Fire Energy from anything already on the Bench to itself when it goes Active, which combines nicely with Arcanine BREAK's Turbo Flame set-up into Scorching Breath...albeit he can't attack on his next turn. There's also another Arcanine set to come out in Sun & Moon, and that's the one that seems the most promising to me with BREAK. In Expanded, you've got the two Arcanines from Next Destinies, with (12) hanging onto the attack deterrent Burning Mane Ability and (13) coming in about as basic as the BREAKpoint version. 

Ultimately, Arcanine BREAK may see a little niche play in some Volcanion decks, but his usage is entirely optional compared with the non-EX Volcanion's own Power Heater being more efficient with less Energy but less damage. He might also end up in his own separate deck, though I'm not sure what deck one would want an effective Stage 2 Energy recycler. If there's a use for Arcanine BREAK, it's out there, but until that time, he'll be niche at best. 


Standard: 2.5/5 (he may be a slower more powerful Volcanion with Power Heater) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (but Turbo Flame is an attack that shouldn't be overlooked just because it's on a BREAK Evo) 

Limited: N/A (such is the nature of promos though) 

Arora Notealus: Arcanine BREAK will surely find his way into some deck, but if he doesn't, then it won't be a big deal. His Turbo Flame is definitely a useful attack, and I'd hate to see it end up wasting away in a trade binder being unused, but efficiency is the name of the game, and it's hard to be a Stage 2 with Energy cycling for 2 Energy competing against a Basic with Energy cycling for 1 Energy.

Weekend Thought: Any thoughts on this week's cards? Think I was a bit too harsh on some cards? Not harsh enough? Think there's a use for some of these cards in some deck out there? Lemme know your thoughts as we start taking a look into the next evolution of the card game...no, not BREAKing into it, that's pretty much over and done with as far as I can tell.


We conclude this week with Arcanine BREAK (XY: Black Star Promos XY180).  Being a BREAK Evolution is slightly complicated; they are not the same Stage as the Pokémon from which they BREAK Evolved, so only effects that reference Evolutions in general or that specifically cite BREAK Evolutions apply to them.  Sun & Moon officially releases today, and though it will be a bit longer before it is tournament legal, it confirms what we already suspected; no BREAK Evolution cards are present so it is highly unlikely we’ll get anything more that references them.  The only two cards that do so far are both BREAK Evolution counters: Giratina (XY: Black Star Promos XY184) and Starmie BREAK.  The former negates Abilities found on BREAK Evolutions, which includes those inherited from their prior Stage.  The latter simply has a single Energy attack that hits all of the other player’s BREAK Evolution cards for 100 damage.  Not the worst things to deal with, but they are out there and Giratina at least is seeing some current usage at TecH to counter more prominent BREAK Evolutions like Carbink BREAK, Greninja BREAK, and Trevenant BREAK.  Arcanine BREAK Evolves from the Stage 1 Arcanine, so it behaves a lot like a Stage 2 without access to some of their better tricks, like Rare Candy. 

As a Fire Type, Arcanine BREAK enjoys some decent tricks; the Fire Type has some powerful plays but they are reserved for Basic Pokémon (Volcanion-EX) or Expanded play (Blacksmith).  You can still include some solid supporting (but not Type specific) Pokémon, as well as support built around helping with [R] Energy; an example of both is Volcanion (XY: Black Star Promos XY145; XY: Steam Siege 25/114).  Most anti-Fire Type effects can safely be ignored because they aren’t particularly good and few people run them, but the exception is Parallel City; this two-sided Stadium has an effect that reduces the damage done by Fire Type (as well as Grass and Water Type) Pokémon by 20, though the main reason it is run is for the other side’s effect, capping a player’s Bench size at three.  That still means a player shrink his or her own Bench (sometimes desirable) to shave damage equivalent to Resistance off of your attacks.  Speaking of Resistance, nothing is naturally Fire Resistant (a small but welcome bonus), while most Grass and nearly all Metal Types are Fire Weak.  Arcanine BREAK has 160 HP, enough to have a good shot at surviving a hit that isn’t striking Weakness.  Its Weakness will come from the Arcanine from which it Evolves, but all are Water Weak so we’ll address it now.  Water Weakness can be pretty dangerous in either Expanded or Standard play, with Expanded having more ways for it to wreck your deck.  No Arcanine has Resistance either, so neither will Arcanine BREAK; a bit of a shame as it could have made a difference with the HP, but -20 damage would only matter in close outcomes, anyway, so it isn’t a bit loss. 

Arcanine BREAK inherits any attacks or Abilities from the Arcanine that precedes it.  Those we’ll address when I look at each Arcanine, so we’ll move onto its own effect, the attack “Turbo Flame”.  For [RC] this attack does 80 damage and attaches two Basic Energy cards from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon.  The Energy acceleration from the discard is great, but the damage is a bit low, falling short of the amount needed to 2HKO most non-Fire Weak Pokémon-EX.  I don’t want to need a Giovanni’s Scheme just to score a OHKO against Fire Weak Pokémon-EX at the typical 170 to 180 HP range, and with a Fighting Fury Belt they could be like Mega Evolutions and still fall outside of OHKO range.  Anything not Fire Weak can take a hit even with a damage buff.  I stress this specifically because M Manectric-EX had the near identical attack “Turbo Bolt”, which cost [LC] to do 110 while still attaching two basic Energy from the discard pile.  Though as a Mega Evolution it was giving up an extra Prize and would have to deal with both Pokémon-EX and Mega Evolution counters, Manectric-EX ended up being so strong that it had a deck on its own, and decks focused on either dominated past Standard formats and are still competitive in Expanded play.  The BREAK Evolution of a Stage 2 is actually slower out the gate than a Mega Evolution (unless the Mega lacks its Spirit Link card), so Arcanine BREAK really needed to do at least 10 more damage (preferably 40 more, so that it could score solid 2HKO’s on its own). 

For Arcanine, we have four options: BW: Next Destinies 12/99, BW: Next Destinies 13/99, XY: BREAKpoint 11/122, and XY: Evolutions 18/108.  All of them are Fire Type Stage 1 Pokémon with Water Weakness and no Resistance, as mentioned above.  Some have a Retreat Cost of [CC] while others have [CCC]; I’ll specify which when I cover them individually, but even the lower cost is too much to pay for in the long run.  Turbo Flame can help a little with recovering discarded Energy, but especially if you use an Arcanine with the larger Retreat Cost, you’ll want to include something to assist with changing out your Active.  So first up for individual specifics is BW: Next Destinies 12/99, only legal for Expanded play.  It has a decent 130 HP, around the point where I find Pokémon start being more likely to survive a hit than be OHKO’d, and the chunkier Retreat Cost of [CCC].  This is one of the two blessed with an Ability; while Arcanine is Active, “Blazing Mane” triggers whenever it is damaged by an attack from an opponent’s Pokémon (even KO’d by the attack).  This actually is more impressive now thanks to the revision to Burn damage: now a Burned Pokémon has two damage counters placed on it between turns, then flips a coin to see if Burn goes away on its own.  The attack is much more dated; for [RRC] “Fire Spin” does 100 damage and requires a coin flip; “tails” means you discard two attached Energy from Arcanine itself, while “heads”... just means the attack does its damage without the drawback.  If we get something that combos off the Burn, this might have a reason to be used, but probably not.  Baby Mario and virusyosh reviewed it here. 

Next up is the set-mate of the previous Arcanine, XY: Next Destinies 13/99, meaning it is also an Expanded-only option.  This one only has 120 HP, meaning it shifts to being a tiny bit more likely to be OHKO’d than survive.  It still has the full [CCC] Retreat Cost, and two attacks instead of an Ability and attack combo.  “Crunch” costs [RC] and does 30 damage, plus a coin flip to try and discard Energy from the Defending Pokémon.  For [RCC] it does 70 damage, mediocre but not entirely worthless in general, but pointless for Arcanine BREAK unless it would need to avoid attaching Energy from the discard pile for some obscure reason.  Again, Baby Mario and virusyosh review it here.  XY: BREAKpoint 11/122 is our first Standard legal option, but has the lowest HP of the bunch at 110; it isn’t fragile, but most decks should take it down in one hit outside of hiccups.  The Retreat Cost is [CC], and again we have two attacks available.  “Flop” costs [C] and does 30 while [RRC] pays for “Flamethrower” to do 90 damage, and discard an Energy from Arcanine itself.  Yet again, these attacks aren’t awful, but they are definitely underpowered by competitive standards, and will seldom help Arcanine BREAK.  We didn’t review this one unless I had a Ctrl+F fail. 

That just leaves the other Standard-legal option, XY: Evolutions 18/108.  It borrows the artwork from the original Arcanine (Base Set 23/102; Base Set 2 33/130; Legendary Collection 36/110) but not much else.  130 HP with Retreat Cost [CC], it has the Ability “Burning Road” and the attack “Scorching Breath”.  The Ability can be used once during your turn, before your attack.  Normally that last bit would go without saying, but this one is actually a triggered Ability, activating when this Arcanine goes from your Bench to the Active position.  If you use Burning Road at that point, you may move any number of [R] Energy attached to your other Pokémon to it.  As it does not specify basic Energy but does affect Energy already in play, that means Special Energy which provide [R] are fair game, and this can help it power up fairy quickly, provided you have means of making it Active during your turn (KO’s between turns or on your opponent’s turn wouldn’t work) and sufficient Energy in play to make a difference.  You’ll probably want at least two units of [R] Energy available and preferably more, because Scorching Breath needs [RRRC].  The hefty cost yields 150 damage, which might be a bit low given the Energy investment, and definitely is low given the effect prevents Arcanine (“this Pokémon”) from attacking during your next turn.  BREAK Evolving will remove that effect, and this is the best choice for Arcanine BREAK, but it gives a third reason to include assistance for changing out your Active.  We reviewed it here, where I mention Arcanine BREAK as well as a possible future partner. 

Growlithe won’t be much help as none of the five available are impressive, but a few do stand out.  You can pick from BW: Next Destinies 10/99, BW: Next Destinies 10/99, BW: Legendary Treasures RC4/RC25; XY: BREAKpoint 10/122, and XY: Evolutions 17/108, all of which are Basic, Fire Type Pokémon with 70 or 80 HP, Water Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CC] or [CCC], no Ability, and either one or two attacks.  BW: Next Destinies 10/99 is only legal for Expanded play, has 80 HP with Retreat Cost [CCC].  Slightly sturdier than some options, but not enough to guarantee it is the version to use, with the Retreat Cost strongly suggesting you should avoid it.  The first attack is “Stoke” and it is a weak argument for using the card, costing [C] and having you flip a coin to see if you may attach a [R] Energy from the deck to Growlithe itself.  For [RC] Growlithe can use “Firebreathing” instead to do 10 damage plus flip a coin, with “heads” adding 20 to the damage (for 30 total) while “tails” just means the base 10 is done.  BW: Next Destinies 10/99 still has 80 HP but drops the Retreat Cost down to [CC] and the attacks down to one; [RC] pays for “Combustion” which does 20 damage.  This is another card only legal for Expanded play.  BW: Legendary Treasures RC4/RC25 is… adorable.  It also has 80 HP with Retreat Cost [CC], but goes back to having two attacks.  For [CC] it can use “Rest” to heal all damage from itself, but this leaves it Asleep.  For [RCC] it can use “Lunge” to do 40 damage, but you have to flip a coin and “heads” just means the attack works while “tails” means it does nothing.  Rest is about as compelling as Stoke while Lunge is a waste, but we have the better HP with the better Retreat; this might be the go to for Expanded play. 

The first of our Standard legal offerings is XY: BREAKpoint 10/122, the first to have only 70 HP, but still with Retreat Cost [CC] at least.  Its attack is “Bite” for [CC], doing 20.  At least Bite is affordable when you’re desperate to finish off something nearly KO’d, but thankfully we have one other option for Standard play.  XY: Evolutions 17/108 is the other Growlithe with 70 HP and Retreat Cost [CC], and while its attacks are again underwhelming, they aren’t totally without merit.  “Hind Kick” costs [C] and does 10, then sends Growlithe to the Bench; this makes it more likely to survive to Evolve and helps set up for Burning Road.  “Flare” costs [RC] and does 20, which is overpriced like most of these attacks, but at least it doesn’t require a coin flip.  In Standard and possible Expanded play, use XY: Evolutions 17/108 even though it has 10 less HP; you never want to attack with these, and on the Bench the 10 less HP means even less, so as an insurance policy it is the best of the bunch.  So putting together Growlithe (XY: Evolutions 17/108), Arcanine (XY: Evolutions 18/108), and Arcanine BREAK, do we get a competitive deck?  Probably not, but it might be functional. 

The big issue is you just don’t have enough room for all the Pokémon, Trainers, and Energy it would need to cover its bases.  Expanded makes this a bit easier as you can use Keldeo-EX with Float Stone to easily Bench, then Retreat back into Arcanine BREAK; unless some Energy was discarded or you failed to attach two basic Fire Energy with Turbo Flame, you should have what you need to use Scorching Breath, and if both attacks hit the same target, that’s 230 damage.  Muscle Band or Silver Bangle are options here for an added damage buff, and you might have enough room for a Vespiquen (XY: Ancient Origins 10/98) to handle most Water threats.  You could just use M Manectric-EX for a deck without Burning Road and Scorching Breath, but more likely to score 2HKO’s while attaching Energy, and proven to work with a variety of partners… Basic Partners at that.  Standard has less direct competition, but now you’ll need Zoroark (XY: BREAKthrough 91/162) to replace Keldeo-EX, or else just replace the entire line with Trainers to change out your Active.  Zoroark provides a useful alternate attacker, but again space is limited.  No Muscle Band or Silver Bangle either, but we are slated to get a Tool that might replace those, and until then you might try Bursting Balloon. 

I’ve run into an Arcanine BREAK deck once or twice; it might be functional for Expanded and Standard play, but probably not competitive.  If you’ve got the cards, though, feel free to give it a try.  Maybe the person using it (and myself in the analysis) missed something, or maybe some future releases will address the areas where the deck is lacking.  Yet again, I’m going to score a card the same in Standard and Expanded, and yet again doesn’t mean they work out exactly the same, but that the net positives and negatives of the Expanded card pool result in an approximately equal performance.  Arcanine BREAK is a promo so it cannot be used in Limited play, but if it were surprisingly released in a set, it would be solid; it is effectively a Stage 2, so it will take some effort to run, but after that is it a pseudo-Stage 2 that can set up your next attacker and has good HP. 


Standard: 2.75/5 

Expanded: 2.75/5 

Limited: N/A 

Summary: Arcanine BREAK looks like a near miss, which actually is not bad for a BREAK Evolution.  A bit better damage, HP, or lower Stages and it might have been a contender; two of those three and I believe it would have been.

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